Ephesians 2:10 – For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. (NASB)
What I have always known from this verse, is that we (Christians) were created to do good works (our reason for remaining on earth, and not going immediately to Heaven), and that God, Himself created opportunities for us to do them. But what I am just now understanding is this:
- God does not need us to accomplish His work.
- He allows us to participate in His work.
- Our participation in God's work deepens our understanding of God and his plan.
- God blesses us through our participation in His work.
If I were to summarize the above points, what is clear is that it is all about God's work. In ministry, we get off track when we forget that the work is God's work. Jesus himself said that he did not come here to do his own work, but the work of the One who sent him. As soon as we realize that ministry is not about us, then our attitude is right.
So what is "Our Part" in God's work? It is being ready, willing, and available to take advantage of opportunities to serve the Lord in church, with friends, at work, anywhere we find opportunities to share the gospel, to encourage other believers, to support God's work, to demonstrate God's love… We should do it.
As ministry leaders, how can we approach this?
- We can help new believers get started by organizing "light weight" opportunities. Short term committments, and lightweight service opportunities are great ways to get new people involved. Make sure that there is a clear path for them to move into more significant service roles as they are ready.
- We can make sure that our volunteers and potential volunteers are aware of opportunities to serve and to help. Somethimes ministry fails, because potential volunteers are not aware of the needs of the ministry. How will they know if you don't tell them?
- We can make a clear path for new volunteers to approach us. How do I plug in? For new people, it is often intimidating to ask how can I help? There should be a regular and accessible way for people to know about needs of ministry programs.
- We can manage our resources to help ensure that volunteers do not overcommit or commit to burnout. This can be tough, including recommending the elimination of a program that cannot be supported with staff – even though there is fruit. If people know there are needs, but the Spirit does not move any to volunteer, then that can signal God's direction to change programs.
- We can make sure that our volunteers understand our values around ministry. That it is God's work we are doing, and the the goal of all ministry is to produce fruit.